A bill passed on Monday that restricts Florida Universities from promoting programs encouraging diversity, equity, and inclusion has advanced to the senate.
The Public Postsecondary Educational Institutions Act, or House Bill 999, prohibits universities from providing funding assistance to “any programs or campus activities that espouse diversity, equity, or inclusion or Critical Race Theory rhetoric.”
Before it can be sent to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk, the Senate must first pass its version of the measure, S.B. 266.
Opponents of the bill, mainly black fraternities, and sororities, fear that the proposed legislation will prohibit them from being on Florida college campuses because of the wording.
Before Monday’s debate in the House, state senator Shevrin Jones (D) informed Jasmine Burney-Clark, an Alpha Kappa Alpha member and the founder of Equal Ground Florida, in an Instagram live that the measure is “so vague that HBCUs or other institutions, period who have Black fraternities and sororities on their campuses can practically say we will no longer be supporting you on our campuses based off of this law.”
The bill will ban courses “based on unproven, theoretical, or exploratory content” and majors in women’s studies or gender studies.
It bans state schools from using rhetoric from critical race theory, diversity, equity, and inclusion statements, or “other forms of political identity filters as part of the applications for tenure and advancement.”
However, the bill does not identify rhetoric based on critical race theory.
Courses such as “Gender and Climate Change” at Florida Atlantic University and “Social (In)Equalities: Social Construction of Difference and Inequalities” at Florida State University were mentioned as examples of existing courses that would be prohibited under the proposed legislation.
The legislation does not expressly prohibit many of the groups named, but activists and lawmakers have expressed concern about how the language could be manipulated to target specific programs.
On Monday, Democratic state Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson asked how the bill would impact student centers such as “Black student unions, pride centers, multicultural student centers, and multi-faith advisory boards.”
State Rep. Alex Andrade said that for the “vast majority” groups mentioned, “It doesn’t. The bill does not apply to them.”
“Those student groups can continue to operate how they see fit currently, subject only to the policies and procedures that are content neutral that apply to all organizations, student organizations on campus,” he explained.
Angie Nixon, a Democratic state representative, tried to amend the measure to add additional safeguards for groups she felt needed. The House rejected her proposal.
“Let’s stop going down this dangerous road of censorship and limiting free speech in our public institutions of higher learning and get back to solving the problems that Floridians ask for,” Nixon tweeted Monday after the bill advanced.
The American Historical Association has condemned the bill, saying, “We express horror (not our usual “concern”) at the assumptions that lie at the heart of this bill and its blatant and frontal attack on principles of academic freedom and shared governance central to higher education in the United States.”
“This is not only about Florida. It is about the heart and soul of public higher education in the United States and the role of history, historians, and historical thinking in the lives of the next generation of Americans,” the AHA added.
Teaching pedophilia to kids is sick and disgusting, but you don’t focus on this, you focus on one single line, twist it to hide your sick…are you a promoter of pedophilia? Are you a pedophile? You are pedophile. Every single one of you, who encourages the sexual mutilation of children and sexual grooming that you promote are freaking sick puppies and should be removed from society at all cost! PERVERTS!